Elf on the Shelf 2011

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Christmas, Elf on the Shelf | Posted on 26-12-2011


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Christmas is probably my favorite time of year.  I love all the things that make Christmas what it is to me – including the traditions that we have as a family.  I ran across an article on traditions on Momtastic called “Why It’s Important (and fun) to Leave Cookies for Santa.”  Although the tradition I am writing about here isn’t about making cookies for Santa (which Kaylynn and I do enjoy baking together), I think it states why traditions are important to making the holidays special and spending time with your kids.

So this year we decided to start a new family tradition with doing Elf on the Shelf (even though we were a little late jumping on the bandwagon!).  Better late than never I guess :)   The day our elf made an appearance a friend of mine posted this on Facebook, so I had a good laugh because I had been looking online for creative ideas for displaying our elf.  You can rest assured, I will not be a mommy who dumps flour or sugar on the floor so our elf can make a snow angel because that would just be plain wasting precious baking goods!

Well, I am sure it is not surprising to anyone who knows my daughter, but she decided to name our elf Pink.  Yup, that is right.  The little girl who loves princesses, fairies and all thinks pink and purple decided to name our elf dressed in red and white clothes Pink.  Needless to say, we were not surprised.  I guess Mommy will have to make a skirt for her for next year.

After a couple of days, Kaylynn caught on to the fact that Pink was hiding somewhere and she had to find her.  I won’t say there weren’t a couple of “reminders” at times from Mommy and Daddy to Kaylynn that Pink was watching her and she needed to use her listening ears.  :)   It was cute to watch her look for Pink and remind us of the rules (several times I was told, “Don’t touch Pink!”).  I look forward to doing Elf on the Shelf next year and will hopefully not be “that” mom in positioning our little elf every day.

Day 1:  Our elf appears on the DVD shelf and is given the name Pink.

 

Day 2: Pink was found lounging in the china cabinet by the kitchen table watching over Kaylynn as she eats.

 

Day 3:  Pink climbed her way to the top of the Christmas tree and perched herself by the angel.

 

Day 4:  Naughty little Pink!  She was found trying to get into one of the cupboards.

 

Day 5:  Pink must have worked up an appetite because she was found fishing for goldfish crackers on the kitchen table.

 

Day 6:  Pink finds some friends with our <partial> Peanuts nativity scene (a few pieces have gone missing or broken!).

 

Day 07:  Pink made her way into Kaylynn’s bedroom and perched herself on top of her dresser.

 

Day 08:  Silly Pink!  She got stuck in Kaylynn’s stocking!

 

Day 09:  Pink always knows where Kaylynn is at – she even made it to Grammy & Grandpa’s house and watched over the Christmas Eve festivities!

Holiday Baking 2011

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Christmas, cookies, desserts | Posted on 07-12-2011


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This year my sister-in-law and I decided we wanted to do a baking day to make all sorts of holiday goodies to give away (and who are we kidding, to also eat ourselves!).  We were marathon bakers/decorators – we started about 8:30 in the morning and finished around 6:00 in the evening, only breaking for lunch.  We meant business!  Our goodies included:

Gingerbread Cookies

Sugar Cookies

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Samoa Bark

St. Nick’s Dove Sticks

Candy Cane Fudge

Toffee

Truffles

Orange Cranberry Drops

Coconut Cranberry Bars

Apricot Almond Bars

Happy Holidays!

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Christmas, family | Posted on 07-12-2011


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Happy holidays from us to you!

Our sweet little children…

…showing their true colors!  :)

 (Link to our Christmas card here)

Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.

 

Making Way for Wee Wood #2!

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in family, freezer meals | Posted on 19-11-2011


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Time has flown by this time around!  When I was pregnant with Wee Wood #1, 9 months seemed to take forever to pass.  This time around, I feel like I have blinked and Wee Wood #2 was here.  One thing I did this time that I wish I had done the first time around is make some meals ahead of time and put them in the freezer so it is easy enough for one of us to pull something out and stick it in the oven or crockpot.  I made a list below of the meals I have made and stuck in the freezer in case anyone was looking for some good freezer meals (even if you aren’t expecting a new addition to your family!).

Breakfast

Dinners

Desserts

Snacks

Saturday Morning Routine

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in family | Posted on 25-06-2011

Kaylynn has never really been a fan of having her fingernails or toenails cut. Unfortunately for her, it is one of those necessary grooming habits that must take place on a regular basis. A while ago we discovered loved having her nails painted, but I just didn’t do that all that often. So to easy the weekly process of cutting and trimming, we make it something fun and she gets a mani and pedi every week. Spoiled, I know! Today I snapped some pics of our weekly routine.

First, line up all of our nail polish bottles to see all of the choices.

Make the selection of polish to use.

Have Mommy check our toenails and fingernails for necessary trimming and cutting.

Sit on our stool and pose with nail polish.

Show how flexible we are (while still posing with the nail polish).

Get our toenails painted.

Sit at the table and wait for Mommy to paint our fingernails.

Blow on our nails to help them dry fast.

While waiting for our nails to dry, get our hair did in our favorite hairstyle – “balls”.

Finally, act a little goofy :)

Sugar & Spice

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in family | Posted on 10-04-2011

This little one definitely has her own personality and sometimes it changes from day to day.  She is a very sweet, caring and polite little girl, but like every toddler, will have her moments.  Her moments today were on the entertaining side.  I have not seen her do this before today, but it was first witnessed by my mom, aunt and cousin as Kaylynn was playing on the trampoline at my aunt’s house today.  It seemed like she would get frustrated with not being able to jump around like my cousin and just needed a moment to pout before continuing on with her business.

Then it continued at home, where a break was needed to sit and pout for a moment with arms crossed and an angry look.  These came from out of the blue, so it was funny to watch her sit down and pout.

Oh, to be inside the head of a toddler…. :)

Here We Go Again…

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in cookies | Posted on 06-03-2011

…another open house.  I am beyond being able to express words that represent how bad I want our house to sell.  I am going to just leave it at that because that is about as close as I come to putting it into words.

To make the house springy and cheery, I picked up some fresh flowers

…and make some chocolate chip cookies.

Maybe all this time I have been jinxing us by making cookies other than the go-to classic cookie.  I usually just use the recipe off the bag of chocolate chips, but I thought I would search around a little bit and see if I could find a recipe that would deliver that soft, chewy, yumminess of a chocolate chip cookie.  I stumbled across Mom and Camera while looking at photography blogs and saw she had a recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  Hey, I will give it a shot if her pictures look that amazing.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. margarine
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 package chocolate chips (or as many as you wish to add)

  1. Cream shortening, margarine, sugars, eggs, and vanilla together in a mixer. Allow to mix for 2-3 minutes or until ingredients have combined and look “fluffy.”
  2. Add in flour, salt and soda. Mix just until ingredients are combined.
  3. Mix in chocolate chips.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes (this time will vary depending on your oven) or until slightly golden on the edges.

These cookies turned out to be awesome!  I used chocolate chunks and maybe put a few too many in, but really, is there really such a thing as too much chocolate?

Baked Donuts Attempt #3

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in donuts | Posted on 02-03-2011

Yes, you read that right.  Attempt #3.  You have probably noticed that I haven’t posted about attempts 1 and 2 either (well, indirectly I posted about #1).  That is because they were not even worth posting about because they could barely be digested.

I have been on the search for a good recipe for baked donuts ever since I scored some donut pans.  I understand that baked donuts will have a different flavor than fried donuts, but it seems like there is something off about each recipe.  I can’t quite pin-point what it is that is missing, so I keep on looking.

These donuts were by far the best I have made.  Still not the best tasting, but not terrible.  It took about until the second donut where they didn’t seem so bad.  They were just kind of bland and very muffin-like.  As one of my co-workers mentioned, I decorated them so they looked like a regular donut, but once you had a bite, you realized it was not a donut.  My co-workers were trying to be polite test subjects, but were honest that they were not the best tasting donut they have had (except for one who said he would have even preferred it without the frosting).  The recipe I tried was from Baking Bites for their Baked Mini Donuts.  Their review wasn’t too far off from mine – I guess I was just hopeful that they might be a little closer to what I was searching for.  I think I am only spending the time to blog about this because I was happy with how my pictures turned out considering I took them at 6:30 in the morning with no natural light.

Baked Mini Donuts
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk

  1. Lightly grease a mini donut pan (you could also bake these in a mini muffin pan if you don’t mind the lack of a hole in your donuts).
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together brown sugar, egg and melted butter until mixture is smooth. Beat in vanilla extract, then half of the flour mixture. Mix in the buttermilk, followed by the remaining flour. Stir only until all ingredients are combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain visible. Scoop batter into a quart or gallon-sized plastic bag and chill for 1-2 hours, or overnight if you want to prep the donuts the night before.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325F and remove the bag from the refrigerator after batter has chilled.
  5. Snip the corner off of the plastic bag and pipe batter into mini donut cavities, filling each about 2/3 full.
  6. Bake for 9 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly pressed. (For regular-sized donuts in a larger donut pan, bake 12-15 minutes)
  7. Turn donuts out to cool on a wire rack. Dip tops of donuts in glaze when donuts are completely cooled and decorate with sprinkles, sugar, spices or anything else you can think of.
  8. Allow glaze to set for at least 1 hour before storing, or just eat and enjoy!

Makes about 18 mini donuts.

Vanilla Glaze
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 tsp milk

Whisk all ingredients together in a small, shallow bowl, adding milk as necessary to make the glaze thick enough to stick easily to the donuts. If it becomes too thin, simply add a bit more confectioners’ sugar.

Peanut Butter Cup Biscotti

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in biscotti, recipes | Posted on 20-02-2011

I am not a huge coffee drinker, but I do enjoy a good cup of coffee every now and then.  It probably has something to do with the fact that my co-workers being avid coffee drinkers.  I ran across this recipe for Peanut Butter Cup Biscotti at Tracey’s Culinary Adventures and thought I would give it a try.  I even had some mini peanut butter cups in the freezer from a past trip to Trader Joe’s that would work perfectly.  Sweet.

I followed the directions as listed, but either I was a little rough handling them or they were just a little crumbly.  I had several that did not make it through the two baking times in whole pieces.  Oh well, I guess I will just have to snack on them.

Overall, I was happy with how they turned out and they were really not all that difficult to make.  Who knows, maybe I will have to try some other biscotti recipes as I refine my coffee-drinking palate!

Peanut Butter Cup Biscotti
from The Peanut Butter & Co. Cookbook (via Annie’s Eats)

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup chopped mini peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 350 F.   Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, peanut butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the vanilla to the mixer bowl.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, allowing each to incorporate before adding the next, and scraping down the bowl between additions. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Stir in the chopped peanut butter cups until evenly distributed.

Divide the dough in half.  On the prepared baking sheet, shape each half into a log about 11 x 3 inches, spacing the logs at least 3 inches apart.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven but maintain the oven temperature.  Let cool for 10 minutes then use a serrated knife to slice each log diagonally into slices about 1/2-inch thick.  Lay the slices, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake, until the biscotti are slightly crisp, about 20-30 minutes more, flipping them over halfway through the baking time. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Makes about 30 biscotti

Snow Day Fun

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in donuts, fall, family, pork, recipes | Posted on 02-02-2011

Well, the Blizzard of 2011, Snowpacalypse or whatever you want to call it, came in full force.  We received over a foot of snow and thankfully Jeremy and I both had a snow day.  I knew that we would be spending a lot of time outside shoveling, so I put some pork in the slow cooker in the morning so that we could have a nice warm, yummy dinner.  It was definitely a winter wonderland out there (the pictures don’t really do it justice for how much snow there actually was)!

Kaylynn was not so much of a fan of the large amounts of snow, so she and I ended up going inside early.  Well Daddy was outside shoveling, Kaylynn and I tried to keep busy with fun activities.  One thing that we decided to do was test out Mommy’s new donut pans.  I found a simple recipe online at Amie’s Ideas that I had almost all the ingredients for except the buttermilk.  I had recently come across this helpful hint at Burn Me Not for a way to “make” your own buttermilk in just a few minutes.  I didn’t taste it, but you could definitely tell that when I mixed it with skim milk it got a little thicker.  Kaylynn was a big help with mixing and squeezing our mixture into the donut pans.  After they donuts had baked and cooled, we dipped them in regular and chocolate glazes and put some Winnie-the-Pooh sprinkles on them.

And yes, that is the hand of a little girl who is picking the sprinkles off of the donut, not putting them on.  The overall consensus on the donuts?  Good, not great.  They are kind of like a soft muffin in the shape of a donut.  Maybe when I prepare a little better with ingredients we will find a better recipe.

After we finished making, dipping and decorating our donuts, Kaylynn helped me make a gourmet lunch – cheesy weenies wrapped in crescent rolls.  Kaylynn did the wrapping and kept calling the weenies “hot dogs” and kept trying to eat them cold.  Yuck.

After lunch, Kaylynn took a nap and Jeremy and I finished up shoveling.  My husband is awesome because he ended up doing most of the shoveling and he can make huge snow piles.

After we got back in the house and warmed up, we had dinner – some delicious barbecue pulled pork, garlic mashed potatoes and cheesy broccoli.

It was nice to be home, but we are tired and sore from all the
shoveling.  Here’s to hoping they get our road plowed tonight!

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